Tag Archives: Grace Lee Boggs

Let’s Talk About Names: Ali, hooks, Lee Boggs

By Guest Contributor Sarah J. Jackson; originally published at Are Women Human?

Naming and Politics

Prof. Sarah J. Jackson

In February 1964, Cassius Clay became the heavyweight champion of the world. A month later, he changed his name to Muhammad Ali. For months–in some cases years–journalists, members of the boxing establishment, and occasionally his competitors refused to call Ali by his new name. Grant Farred (2003) contends that Ali’s name change was “simultaneously an act of negation (denial of his slave name) and self-construction (adoption of his Islamic name), both…the acquisition of an unprecedented ideological agency.” (28)

The controversy that erupted over Ali’s name then hinged largely on the perceived ideological danger of a black man in America refusing “safe” narratives of black masculinity and politics. Ali’s choice to rename himself, alongside his conversion to Islam, and later refusal to serve in Vietnam were treated as anti-American, threatening, and unstable. The social and economic consequences were years of denigration in the press, alongside a formal ban from boxing in the United States.

In what can only be described as a combination of social and political progress and severe historical amnesia, Ali is now commonly lauded as an American hero with little acknowledgement from the media of the ways he was socially disciplined for his decisions. Contemporary constructions of Ali rarely discuss in any detail the anti-colonial politics that lead to his dissent around Vietnam or the domestic racial politics that lead to his identification with the Nation of Islam and name change. Ali’s identity then continues to be shaped by forces outside of himself, but the necessary negotiations around it have left a lasting mark on the way our country understands sports, politics, and race.

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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Grace Lee Boggs

By Andrea Plaid

I need to admit something about the Crush posts about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Oppressed Brown Girls Doing Things I did in April: I partly did it because I wanted to give myself a birthday present that week, and what’s better than a sharing some love on one’s birthday, right?

Well, this week’s Crush just celebrated a birthday this week–like two days ago–and I try not to be selfish about sharing birthday love. So…the Racialicious Crush Of The Week is Grace Lee Boggs, who just celebrated her 97th year on this earth–and she’s still rocking the activism.

Grace Lee Boggs. Courtesy: boggsblog.org

 

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A Letter To The Occupy Together Movement

By Guest Contributor Harsha Walia

I wish I could start with the ritualistic “I love you” for the Occupy Movement. To be honest, it has been a space of turmoil for me. But also one of virulent optimism. What I outline below are not criticisms. I am inspired that the dynamic of the movement thus far has been organic, so that all those who choose to participate are collectively responsible for its evolution. To everyone – I offer my deepest respect.

I am writing today with Grace Lee Boggs in mind:

The coming struggle is a political struggle to take political power out of the hands of the few and put it into the hands of the many. But in order to get this power into the hands of the many, it will be necessary for the many not only to fight the powerful few but to fight and clash among themselves as well.

This may sound counter-productive, but I find it a poignant reminder that, in our state of elation, we cannot under-estimate the difficult terrain ahead. I look forward to the processes that will further these conversations.
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